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Primary school extension plans approved

West Berkshire Council unanimously approve plans

John Garvey

Reporter:

John Garvey

school

PLANS to improve and extend Hungerford Primary School have been unanimously approved by planners.

Some nearby residents had expressed reservations about the project to help cater for a significant increase in pupil numbers.

In September, West Berkshire Council formally applied for permission to expand the school by demolishing the disused swimming pool and building a single-storey extension to provide a new hall, studio, kitchen and admin areas.

According to the plans, this will increase the Fairview Road school’s pupil capacity from the current 420 to a maximum of 525.

The plans were drawn up following a community consultation involving parents and residents in July and some responded with fears that the proposed height of the new hall would be overpowering.

Others highlighted “major problems with the school parents and parking at present” and asked: “What will that be like when the expansion has been done and there are more kids?”

At a meeting of West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee, development control team leader Derek Carnegie said:  “What we have here is a plan that will bring Hungerford Primary School up to modern standards.

“The school need in Hungerford is clear, and it’s a growing settlement.”

He pointed out that  Hungerford Town Council had formally supported the application and added: “They feel that the need for additional education is paramount.

“The principle, we think, is acceptable.

“There will be no increase in staff, they will just be re-allocating.”

Ward member Paul Hewer (Con, Hungerford) said: “This application is important to the natural organic growth of Hungerford.

“It’s all about the pieces of a jigsaw coming together and this is just one of those pieces.”

Referring to the objections from some local residents, he added: “The impact on the residents is minimal.

“Clearly there are no objectors in the room tonight.

“The town council supports this application so I’m not sure there are any more issues I can argue that haven’t been mentioned before.”

Anthony Pick (Con, St John’s) proposed that the application be approved, stating: “It’s a very good application and propose to accept.”

His motion was seconded by Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) and carried unanimously.

A design and access statement for the project asserts: “There is no doubt that undertaking such an extension and improvement to existing facilities is a significant investment on the Hungerford Primary School site.”

It adds that “overall the new school entrance and facilities would give an improved perception of the school to parents and the local community”.

Currently the school employs 23 full-time staff and this would remain the same despite the increase in pupil numbers.

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